Tip #2 - So You Have An Old Outboard Motor…..
Since launching this site I get a lot of emails
from people looking for information on their old outboard. Many
of the same questions are asked over and over, this page is an attempt
to give general answers to the top 5 most common FAQ's that come
What is my old outboard
This is the most common question that I hear and
the toughest to answer, especially sight unseen. Unlike old cars,
toys and even comic books, old outboards are simply not that valuable.
This is because there are literally millions of them around. Why….
Johnson made their one millionth outboard in 1953, thirty one
years after they started. Eight years later they had sold a total
of more than two million outboards. The 1950’s and 60’s
was a boom period in the recreational products business, most
of the old outboards people have fall into this era so they are
Most outboards are only used periodically - they never get enough
hours to wear them out. And outboards
are easily stored in the rafters of a garage or boathouse and
people tend to hang on to them regardless if they run or not.
Unless you live on an island or are a commercial fisherman, boats
and outboards are simply toys. An old Captain I worked for once
said to me; “Red, there ain’t nobody that needs a
boat for nothing”. What he meant was that the price of boats
& related items subject to the whims of disposable income.
Since only a small portion of people spending their disposable
income on boats are interested in a 40 or 50 (or more) year old
outboard, there is a pretty limited market for old outboards.
lets sum it up: a large supply, small demand, not really a necessity,
get the picture? About the best tool out there to give some idea
of value is Peter Hunn’s OLD
OUTBOARD BOOK. You could also try keeping an eye on e-bay auctions
of similar motors but I have found this to be extremely unreliable
since the prices fluctuate widely day to day and week to week.
course any valuation would depend on condition; what one person
considers a real beauty may be junque to another. All too often
a motor that looks nice on the outside can have major issues on
the inside. Many times it can take a trained professional to assess
the condition and repairs needed to put an old outboard right -
often the cost to do this can be far in excess of what it is worth.
And just because a motor has been stashed in a bedroom closet for
40 years doesn't mean that things haven't gone awry - coils, impellers
& fuel system parts will deteriorate regardless of where the
motor is stored.
Ran well when last used..!!!
True, there are some very old motors and some very
rare motors that are worth a lot relative to the average Elgin,
Scott Atwater or Johnson TN-26. To put it in perspective, even a
Clarke Troller twin or 1912 Evinrude is typically selling for less
than a set of nice clean bumpers for a ’57 Chevy Bel Air!
Where do I get parts for
my old outboard?
Try the links section or Webvertize ad at the AOMCI
web site, even better is to join the AOMCI and place an ad in the
Believe it or not, many Evinrude/Johnson (OMC) parts
are still available from your local Bombardier dealer! Unfortunately,
I have found that most Mercury dealers think a motor from 1990 is
too old to get parts for…. I recommend OldMercs.com
if you need parts for an old Merc, the information on their website
is an excellent tool.
There are a few people who have small businesses
specializing in particular makes of old outboards; Martin, Scott-Atwater
and Chris-Craft are just a few. They can be found in the links
section of the AOMCI web site.
Lastly, a good NAPA or other auto parts store should
have access to the Sierra Marine catalog listing thousands of common
consumable outboard parts like coils, carb kits, gaskets, etc…
While I prefer original equipment (o.e.) parts, many of these aftermarket
parts are pretty good. One word of caution; don’t automatically
assume that the aftermarket parts will be less expensive than the
same o.e. part. I have run into several cases where the original
part was SIGNIFICANTLY LESS EXPENSIVE than the aftermarket!
What type of oil/gas should
I use in my old outboard? (Please read, this is important!)
The answer I always give is to run the outboard in question on the originally recommended mixture but using modern TCW-3 or (if applicable) air-cooled 2-stroke oil. That's the short answer!
Need more of an explanation, see this link; 2-Cycle Oil & You!
IMPORTANT: Never use modern oil intended
for a 4-stroke car in 2-stroke equipment – it will destroy
it. Years ago, before detergents were in 4-cycle oil
and before good 2-stroke oils were developed, this may have been
okay - today it is unacceptable.
I have seen many, many, old motors ruined from the
use of cheap, inappropriate or simply not enough oil. While name-brand oils do cost
more, any good mechanic will confirm that a quality oil not only
reduced friction but also; burns cleanly and leaves no ash/coke
in the combustion chamber or in the exhaust. The
few dollars more for a good oil is a small price to pay to prevent
major mechanical issues.
Remember: more oil does no harm but too little can be devastating.
Whenever one is in doubt about what the ratio should
be for a particular motor, posting the question on the AOMCI
Ask A Member board will often yield an answer.
Fact: For an old outboard you do not need to worry that leaded gas is no longer available. Marine fuel sold from the 1930’s through the 1960’s was called “Marine White” and was, in fact, unleaded gas. There are a lot of debates over what octane to use; a quality 87 octane has never given me any problems.
A major issue for the old outboard is the use of ethanol as an additive in modern fuels. Essentially alcohol, these additives are really trouble for the rubber parts in the fuel system. If you have any fuel system parts made of black neoprene rubber, (fuel line, carburetor float bowl gasket, needle tip, fuel valve packing, etc..), the alcohol will dissolve them. Problems from a plugged fuel line to fuel dripping everywhere are the result. (I have a friend who lost a beautiful 1959 Chevy Impala when the fuel line failed due to ethanol and leaking gasoline started a fire - fortunately nobody was hurt or killed.) About the only option to remedy the problem of these reformulated fuels is to replace all the rubber components with ones that are able to cope with the new fuels.
If you are interested in knowing more about the % of alcohol of your fuel, I recommend the Briggs & Stratton alcohol test kit p/n 100023, about $5 at your local B&S dealer. When I tested our local Mobil station I found they had 18% ethanol (it is supposed to be no higher than 10%), a lethal brew to my old equipment. Since then I have been forced to upgrade all my rubber components or import my fuel from nearby states that do not have additives.
Where can I find more information
on my old outboard?
Cook & Co. has original or copies of OMC owners and parts manuals.
OldMercs.com has most of the old Mercury manuals available. Certain specialty
outboard parts sources and automotive literature people may also
have manuals. Lastly there is always one of the on-line auctions. Again, I would recommend THE
OLD OUTBOARD BOOK and THE
CLASSIC OUTBOARD HANDBOOK both by Peter Hunn; they are two great
sources for information.
Who can fix my old outboard?
Basically it’s all up to you! On an old outboard
it can take several hours to clean the ancient gas from the carburetor,
repair and replace the ignition system and service the water pump.
Since time is money, most professionals will not touch an old outboard
and it would be very costly if they did. The first mechanical device I ever tinkered with
at age 9 was an old outboard, they are simple and pretty easy to
work on - why not give it a try? All you need are some basic tools
and a few books from your local library – you may find you
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